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John Elkington
""John Elkington 06.JPG
Born John Brett Elkington
(1949-06-23) 23 June 1949 (age 68)
"Padworth, "Berkshire, "England, "United Kingdom
Residence "London, "England, "United Kingdom
Citizenship British
Alma mater "University College London
Known for "Triple Bottom Line
Awards 2011 Spencer Hutchens, Jr. Medal by the American Society for Quality (ASQ)
Scientific career

"Social entrepreneurship

Institutions "Volans

John Elkington (born June 23, 1949) is an "author, advisor and serial "entrepreneur, perhaps best known for coining such terms as environmental excellence, green growth, green consumer, the triple bottom line and People, Planet & Profit (or Prosperity). He is described as a world authority on "corporate responsibility and "sustainable development. He is currently a Founding Partner and Chairman & Chief Pollinator at Volans,[1] a future-focused business working at the intersection between the worlds of sustainability, entrepreneurship and innovation. He is also co-founder of SustainAbility[2] (1987, where he is now Honorary Chairman) and of Environmental Data Services (ENDS, 1978).



John Elkington was described by "Business Week in 2004 as "a dean of the corporate responsibility movement for three decades." In 2008, the Evening Standard had named him among the ‘1000 Most Influential People’ in London, describing him as “a true green business guru,” and as “an evangelist for corporate social and environmental responsibility long before it was fashionable.” But his first involvement in the field dates back to 1961 when, aged 11, he raised money for the newly formed World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

He says he has always struggled to come up with a suitable elevator pitch to describe what he does, but he suggests that one way to think of it is that he and his colleagues serve as "grit in the corporate oyster," providing a "pro-business, pro-future" irritant around which new forms of value can form. His personal website and blog can be found here.

Somewhat to his own surprise, he turned out to be a serial entrepreneur. In 1978, he co-founded Environmental Data Services (ENDS) with David Layton and Max Nicholson. In 1983, he launched John Elkington Associates, later absorbed into SustainAbility. In 1987, with Julia Hailes and Tom Burke, he co-founded SustainAbility, a think tank and consultancy that works with businesses through markets in the pursuit of economic, social and environmental sustainability. Then, in 2008, he co-founded Volans Ventures with Pamela Hartigan, Sam Lakha, Geoff Lye and Kevin Teo.

He has coined a number of terms over the years, including environmental excellence (1984), green growth (1986, with SustainAbility billed as the "Green Growth Company" from 1987) and green consumer (1986). In 1994, he originated the term ""Triple Bottom Line" and in 1995 the popularisation, People, Planet & Profit (or, alternatively, Prosperity).

He has won awards from, among others, the United Nations, Fast Company, the American Society for Quality, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Skoll Foundation. In 2009, a CSR International survey of the Top 100 CSR leaders placed John fourth: after Al Gore, Barack Obama and the late Anita Roddick of the Body Shop, and alongside "Muhammad Yunus of the "Grameen Bank. He is a visiting professor at Cranfield University School of Management, Imperial college and UCL. In 2014, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Essex.

He is a member of over 20 boards and advisory boards. His Who's Who entry, dating from 2009, lists his recreations as: “playing with ideas, thinking around corners, conversations with unreasonable people, reading an Alpine range of books (history to science fiction) and US business and science magazines, risking life and limb as a London cyclist, catch-it-as-you-can photography, art and design, writing all hours, pre-1944 aircraft, New World wines, 20th century popular music–and Johann Strauss II.”

He has written or co-authored 19 books, including 1988’s million-selling Green Consumer Guide, 1997’s Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, the book which brought his triple bottom line concept and agenda to a wider audience, and 2008’s The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World, co-authored with Volans co-founder Pamela Hartigan. His most recent book, co-authored with Jochen Zeitz, former Chairman and CEO of PUMA, and now co-Chair with Sir Richard Branson of The B Team, is The Breakthrough Challenge: 10 Ways to Connect Tomorrow's Profits with Tomorrow's Bottom Line (Jossey-Bass, 2014).

Books For background on what follows, see here. There follows a listing of selected books authored or co-authored by John Elkington (19 published to date; foreign language editions not included, though there were some 20 of The Green Consumer Guide alone):

Selected forewords (around 20 done to date):

Selected chapters/essays in other books:

Selected reports (over 50 authored or co-authored reports published to date, with an earlier list available here):


Over the past 30 years, John Elkington has served on over 70 boards and advisory boards.




  1. ^ "Volans". Volans. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "Independent think tank and strategy consultancy". SustainAbility. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "John Elkington 1981". Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. Retrieved May 28, 2016. 

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